Love jihad not one-off case in Kerala, says National Investigation Agency

India’s anti-terror probe agency claimed in the SC that the alleged conversion and radicalisation of a Hindu woman and her marriage to a Muslim in Kerala was not an isolated incident.

Published: 17th August 2017 08:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th August 2017 09:37 AM   |  A+A-

Shafin Jahan & Akhila Ashokan (Hadiya), whose marriage was invalidated by HC

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: India’s anti-terror probe agency on Wednesday claimed in the Supreme Court that the alleged conversion and radicalisation of a Hindu woman and her marriage to a Muslim in Kerala was not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern observed in the State. In response, the bench comprising CJI J S Khehar and D Y Chandrachud tasked NIA with the probe under the guidance of former SC judge R V Raveendran.

“The counsel for the petitioner (husband) has no objection to the NIA taking over the investigation subject to this court interviewing the girl. We make it clear that before hearing the matter finally, we shall require the presence of the girl and speak to her before taking a final call,” the bench said.

The order came after Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the NIA, favoured a probe. “Material collected by the police give a clear-cut impression of a pattern,” he said.

Initially, Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioner husband, asked the bench to meet the girl and speak to her about her wishes before ordering an NIA probe. But the bench replied that it would not want to pre-judge the issue by speaking to the woman.

“A girl, who has completed her course in medicine gives out three names when the HC interviews her. Have you heard about this ‘Blue Whale Challenge game? People are incited and convinced to do anything. So everything can happen. We are not assuming anything. We don’t want to pre-judge the whole issue by meeting her or seeking her affidavit at this stage,” it responded.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and D Y Chandrachud tasked NIA with investigating the alleged case of ‘love jihad’ after Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the NIA, favoured a probe into such cases. “Materials collected by the State police give a clear-cut impression of a pattern. There are more cases of this kind. Entities and organisations involved in all such cases are common. Facts require an investigation into the pattern. One charitable trust involved may have SIMI connections,” he said.

“There is the same lady. The entities behind this are the same. The girls convert and refuse to stay with their relatives. These people take them in and the marriage is done during that time. This matter requires further investigation,” Singh added.
Appearing on behalf of Kerala, senior advocate V Giri informed the bench that the State would have no objection if the NIA was directed to take over the probe. The State police want to withdraw from the investigation and are ready to hand over all the probe-related documents to the NIA, he added.

Initially, Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioner husband, objected to the NIA probe and argued, “NIA has been making several U-turns in the recent past. It is one thing to say that the NIA is an independent agency, but I can say that this may not be true. Let the State police conclude its probe and then this court could consider its next step.” Sibal also said the bench must meet the girl and speak to her about her wishes before directing the NIA to probe.

But the bench replied that it would not want to pre-judge the issue by speaking to the woman at this stage. “A girl, who has completed her course in medicine gives out three names when the High Court interviews her. Have you heard about this ‘Blue Whale Challenge game? People are incited and convinced to do anything. So anything can happen. We are not assuming anything. We don’t want to pre-judge the whole issue by meeting her or seeking her affidavit at this stage,” the bench responded.

“We want to give equal opportunity to all. If, after the NIA report, we come to a conclusion that she has rightfully converted, that’s the end of the matter. However, if we arrive at a conclusion that she has been wrongly dragged into this, there will be a different conspectus. So, we will talk to her only after we have all the inputs,” the bench added.

The case came to the top court as girl’s husband Shafin Jahan challenged the annulment of his marriage by the Kerala HC, which ordered the police to probe such cases. Jahan, in his plea, had said it was an insult to the independence of women. On the contrary, Ashokan KM, the woman’s father, alleged that there was a well-oiled systematic mechanism for conversion and Islamic radicalisation.

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